J-LEAGUE

Okubo equals J-League record as Kawasaki take top spot

Former Japan striker Yoshito Okubo equalled the J-League all-time goal scoring record as Kawasaki Frontale beat Nagoya Grampus 3-2.

Former Japan international Yoshito Okubo equalled the J-League all-time goal scoring record as Kawasaki Frontale beat Nagoya Grampus 3-2 at home Saturday to go top of the table.

Okubo bundled in a scrappy equaliser after 75 minutes to tie Hiroshima forward Hisato Sato, who set the new mark with his 158th goal last weekend. Kawasaki improved to seven points from three games in the J-League first stage, one clear of the chasing pack of six teams on six points. They include newly promoted Omiya Ardija, who lost 2-1 at Gamba Osaka on Friday when club president Shigeru Suzuki expressed his desire to hire former Japan women's head coach Norio Sakai as his general manager.

Sasaki stepped down as Japanese coach midweek after failing to guide the 2011 World Cup winners and 2012 Olympic silver medallists to this summer's Rio 2016 Olympics. "If he accepts, we will have to think about how we can best utilise his know-how and skill," Suzuki told local media. "We will see what offers he has and what his plans are."

Another coach bit the dust at the weekend when Kashiwa Reysol's Brazilian manager Milton Mendes quit unexpectedly after his side earned their first point of the season in a 2-2 home draw with Jubilo Iwata. "Today's game will be the last time I lead this team,' the 50-year-old told a news conference, adding his decision was 'an issue of my family's health".

Elsewhere, Urawa Reds swatted aside promoted Avispa Fukuoka 2-0 at home to leapfrog Omiya's 'Squirrels' into second on goal difference. However, defending champions Sanfrecce Hiroshima were frustrated in their bid to record a first win of the new campaign as they were held to a 2-2 draw by visiting Shonan Bellmare. Kashima Antlers crashed to a 1-0 defeat at northern Japan side Vegalta Sendai but Yokohama F-Marinos, part-owned by cash-rich English giants Manchester City, recorded their first win of the season, beating Albirex Niigata 2-1 away.